Winter 2012 – 2013 Prediction…Alabama Snow This Winter? Tuesday Update 5:35pm

Good Tuesday evening! There’s lots of speculation to how this winter will setup across the US, but I’ve got to warn you,  forecasting a winter season is very tough and can be wrong. Meteorologists look at forecast models and trends across the northern hemisphere to determine how a season will set up. Conditions such as blocking in the Arctic, El Nino or La Nina, active or inactive subtropical jetstream and much more can become huge factors in predicting the winter season… Lets dive in…

First, the weak El Nino has weakened into Neutral mode, so the bigger factors could include the AO and NAO (Arctic Oscillation and North Atlantic Oscillation). The graphic above shows the past few months and the forecast plots of the AO and NAO. You’ll notice the red lines are spiking into the negative range on both Oscillations. This means there will be significant blocking across the north Atlantic and Arctic. A “Blocking Pattern” would favor an intense ridge extending northward across the central and western Atlantic and a deep upper air trough across the east or central US. If forecast data is correct, the strong blocking pattern is developing now and will continue to intensify over the next few weeks. We should notice cold air outbreaks across the southeast and east coast through the month of December.

A negative NAO and AO often means for big east coast blizzards through the winter, as the pattern favors a slower eastward movement of a trough and an ideal setup for rapidly developing surface lows up the east coast.

Below is a map I put together showing what should be the setup, atleast for early winter. Again, these patterns can change in a hurry, so it’s important to keep an eye on short term forecasts, rather than seasonal forecasts. Alabama may not get a single snow event, but I really expect several brushes with winter weather if our forecast pattern holds true. I’ve noted where west and central Alabama could very well deal with several snow storms through the months of December, January, February and March. Alberta Clippers or developing Gulf Lows would be the main culprit for snow events in Alabama this winter. As the lows round the base of the trough and head up the east coast, powerful northeast blizzards will become a concern. Will Alabama see a blizzard? Who knows at this point… Sure, a pattern like this could favor a rare winter event for Alabama, but it takes a unique setup for that to occur. Again, it’s more important to pay attention to the 7-day forecast.

This winter could resemble the 2009 and 2010 season, where west and central Alabama deals with several winter storms.  It will be interesting to watch the short term forecast data unfold over the next few months. I sure feel like we’ll have to put snow in the forecast a few times this winter.

If you recall, last winter was looking interesting with the chance of winter weather events. The blocking pattern faded away during the winter, so that kept the really cold air north of Alabama. Again, these patterns can change fast. It’s worth keeping an eye on for sure.

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Richard Scott

WVUA Chief Meteorologist


One Response to Winter 2012 – 2013 Prediction…Alabama Snow This Winter? Tuesday Update 5:35pm

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hopefully we get like 100 inches of snow in the girrafe watermelon of gravy central state park in newyork, Alabama!

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